“There are only four kinds of people in the world – Those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” – Rosalynn Carter
Sobering thought, isn’t it?
When my son was little, I squeezed copious items from my To-Do List into 24 hours before toppling, exhausted, into bed at night. I didn’t think Life could get more hectic.
Was I ever wrong — raising Domer was a breeze compared to caring for his grandmother!
Caring for an aging parent tends to fall on the shoulders of one ‘child.’ If you’re the elected caregiver (like me), here’s my advice:
- Plan for this stage of life before it happens. Don’t wait until Mom or Dad is incapacitated to learn their wishes for those Golden Years.
- Get help before you need it. Friends and neighbors, church members, community resources, home aides — all can spell you off.
- Accept that care giving (and old age) sometime suck. The alternative isn’t so great either.
- Take time for yourself. Don’t become so immersed that you fail to eat, exercise, or sleep. Don’t neglect YOU!
- Find an outlet for your frustrations. Beat a tennis ball, listen to music, journal, pull weeds, go shopping, whatever helps you through the dark times.
- Accept your limitations. You can’t do everything, but do what you can to the best of your ability at the time.
- Find ways to Laugh. You’re not at the same stage your parents are. You’re young, healthy, and have your entire life ahead. LIVE!
- Pray. We all need a Companion who understands and supports us unconditionally. Even if you have the most wonderful spouse and siblings, you’re going to find care giving difficult and challenging, and you’ll need all the help you can get.
- Be kind. Maybe you had a rough childhood or the teenage years were a battle zone. Don’t revisit those feelings. Forgive the wrongs. Your parents probably did the best they could under the circumstances. Try to return the favor.
- Accept your feelings and don’t be afraid of them. Feelings are just feelings. Who can fault you for feeling angry at times, or cheated, or just a bit envious of those not facing this ordeal?
And if you’re not the caregiver:
- Don’t be judgmental. You’re not handling the day-to-day burden, so don’t take sides or grouse that your sibling “isn’t doing it right.”
- Accept your feelings. You might feel envious of a sibling getting your parents’ time and attention; regretful over not being present to help shoulder the load; guilty over your relief at being “out of sight, out of mind.” Who could blame you?
- Support your care giving sibling. Provide a sounding board for his or her frustrations and concerns.
- Remember, this isn’t about you. Don’t wax eloquent on the fabulous vacations you’re taking while sibling is immersed in worries over Mom and Dad. Don’t choose this time to quit your job, divorce, or try to become the center of attention.
- Offer suggestions when asked; volunteer to show up and help. Many hands lighten the load, you know.
- Express your gratitude — often. Would you really like the tables to be turned?
Okay, Friends, what did I miss??